After months of pressure from lawmakers, Utah’s Attorney General, Fil-Am Sean Reyes, released a secret legal opinion this week about whether Governor Gary Herbert acted legally last year when he conducted a special election to replace resigning Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
According to the legal opinion and an accompanying letter, Reyes concluded that “Governor Herbert’s actions appear to have been within his statutory and constitutional authority to call the election as he did.”
Reyes’s closely held opinion had become the source of a Capitol Hill feud between the state’s legislature and governor — who both claimed to have the authority to set the election timing and process.
Reyes drafted the legal opinion at the request of lawmakers, but Herbert blocked its release, claiming attorney-client privilege.
Legislative leaders then threatened to sue for the opinion, but Reyes released it after the governor waived the privilege.
The governor claimed he didn’t know the contents of the long-secret opinion, which turned out to support his position.